Are You Joking?

When I got home from work yesterday, Byron ran to greet me (as he sometimes does): Daddy! Daddy! It’s like a TV show from the 1950s, only in color: I hang up my coat, swoop him up and ask him what he did today. He says he went to the zoo, which he actually did several days ago, but I guess it tops what he did on Thursday.

He has Thomas on his shirt, that very useful engine. “What kind of animal is Thomas?” I ask. He laughs. “He’s not animal!” “I know,” I tell him. “I was joking.”

Thomas Animal

And one of those little light bulbs went on. “Joking.” Byron knows what joking is, he does it all the time — hiding and surprising us, or putting on Mommy’s slippers and saying “I’m Mommy. I’m Mommy.” But he didn’t get that this marvelous form of play had a word. And that such joking — of being intentionally ridiculous — might be done by big people seemed to tickle him to no end.

For the rest of the evening, he kept returning to that: “Is Thomas an animal? Are you joking, Daddy?” Then he would laugh all over again.

Give me a room full of two-year-olds and I’ll kill.


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